Turkey sentences 3 men to life for killing German tourists in 2016
ISTANBUL - A Turkish court on Wednesday jailed three men for life for their role in the 2016 suicide bombing that killed 12 German tourists in the historic centre of Istanbul, an attack blamed on the Islamic State group.
The men were handed aggravated life sentences -- which carry harsher conditions and replaced the death penalty in Turkey -- for attempting to violently overthrow the constitutional order.
They were also given 16-year jail sentences for the murder of each victim, and nine years for possession of explosives.
Another man was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for membership of a terror organisation but was set free after serving time in pre-trial detention. However, he has been barred from leaving the country.
Another 16 people had been wounded in the attack on January 12, 2016 blamed by Turkish authorities on IS that took place in front of the Blue Mosque and near the Hagia Sophia, the former Byzantine church that is now a museum.
Authorities said the bomber was a 28-year-old Syrian who entered Turkey days before the attack, posing as a refugee.
The authorities said he was a member of IS, but the group never claimed responsibility for the attack.
The defendants denied accusations that they assisted the bomber in preparing the attack.
The case of the three alleged organisers of the attack, who are on the run, will be tried separately.
Eighteen other suspects who are not in detention and did not appear in court were acquitted.
Since 2015, Turkey has suffered a series of attacks blamed on IS and Kurdish militants, killing hundreds.
The last attack was in January 2017 during which an IS gunman killed 39 people celebrating New Year at the elite Reina nightclub in Istanbul.